Meet the Press - July 14, 2019

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the Democratic presidential race.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS:

That's the America we believe in.

JOE BIDEN:

We have a chance to do this.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

And I got a plan for that.

CHUCK TODD:

Our brand new NBC News - Wall Street Journal poll: who's up, who's down... and our first look at how the candidates fare against President Trump.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

We have a president who is undermining democracy.

CHUCK TODD:

My guest this morning: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Plus, those immigration raids start today...

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We take those people out, and we take them out very legally.

CHUCK TODD:

...as Democrats and Republicans argue over how to handle the border crisis:

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY:

What will we say to this generation of children and parents we imprisoned for seeking safety? We should be the ones begging for forgiveness.

REP. ANDY BIGGS:

We do not get anywhere by blaming the people who are doing their best to help these people.

CHUCK TODD:

I'll talk to Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. And America's newest hero:

MEGAN RAPINOE:

We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We got to listen more and talk less.

CHUCK TODD:

Megan Rapinoe joins me to talk about the U-S Women's World Cup win, her fight for equal pay... and why she won't go to the White House to celebrate. Joining me for insight and analysis are: NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson, Former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News, the longest running show in television history, this is a special edition of Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. We're getting our first clear look at where the race for the Democratic presidential nomination actually stands and where the candidates stand against President Trump. Here are our first head-to-head match-ups of the 2020 race: In our new NBC News - Wall Street Journal poll of registered voters, we have Joe Biden leading President Trump 51 percent to 42, a healthy nine-point edge. Bernie Sanders also with a healthy lead sitting at 50 percent to President Trump’s 43. Then going on down the line, Elizabeth Warren up five, 48 to 43. And Kamala Harris is essentially tied with Mr. Trump, holding a one-point edge, 45 to 44. And as you can see there while the Democratic numbers do change depending on the candidate, President Trump's numbers essentially match his job approval rating, which in this poll is right in line with where he’s been, which is 45 percent. In the Democratic race for the nomination, Joe Biden is still on top, despite his shaky debate performance, followed by a surging Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg round out the top tier and yes, that, ladies and gentlemen, is your top tier. Sorry to everybody else these days. Looking at the rest of the field, look at this, only Andrew Yang and Beto O'Rourke reach even two percent and there's a real prospect that the remaining one-percenters and lower than that, 17 of them, won't even qualify for the third debate in September and will be forced out of the race. Ultimately, the real story of our poll is that two separate and distinct races are emerging on the Democratic side, each defined by the magnitude of change voters want: There's the small-change, get-things-done side represented by Joe Biden and the big-change, take-risks side that is -- favors Elizabeth Warren.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

We need big, structural change in this country!

JOE BIDEN:

I don't know why we'd get rid of what in fact was working and move to something totally new.

CHUCK TODD:

It's a tale of two primary electorates. 41% of Democrats in that new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll seek smaller-scale policies that cost less, may be easier to pass and bring less change. 35% of those voters pick Joe Biden, who leads the field among them by double digits.

JOE BIDEN:

I am not naive, it's not some old fashion way of doing things that no longer exists. It's the only way our system is supposed to work.

CHUCK TODD:

The other 54% of Democrats want larger-scale policies and major change. Those voters pick Elizabeth Warren, again by double digits.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

You want to make change? We're not going to do this by getting one statute over here, a couple of regulations over there, maybe a better Secretary over here. It's not going to work that way.

CHUCK TODD:

While Biden does best among moderates and conservatives, Warren holds a substantial lead among liberals, now outpacing rival Bernie Sanders - who is competing for the same voters.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

These are not radical ideas, but we need to rally the American people by the millions. That's what I mean by a political revolution.

CHUCK TODD:

The fight between electability and progressive purity is playing out as Democrats debate how to take on Donald Trump:

JOE BIDEN:

You've been awakened, awakened by Donald Trump. Let's talk about that genius for a second.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

I don't think you fight by getting up every day and talking about Donald Trump. I don't. This is our chance to talk about our vision for America

CHUCK TODD:

And argue over issues like healthcare

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

A medicare for all single-payer system.

JOE BIDEN:

I think that we should not be scrapping Obamacare, we should be building on it.

CHUCK TODD:

A battle is also playing out in Congress, where tensions between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and four freshman Democrats who've called themselves "the squad" boiled over after they voted against a border aid bill they argue empowers President Trump. Pelosi told Maureen Dowd: "All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn't have any following."

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

It wasn't dismissive, it was a statement of fact. They were four who argued against the bill and they were the only four who voted against the bill. All I said was, nobody followed their lead.

CHUCK TODD:

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired back, criticizing Pelosi's "singling out of newly elected women of color."

REPORTER:

"How do you respond to criticisms that you're playing the race card against Nancy Pelosi?"

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ:

"That's stupidly untrue."

CHUCK TODD:

Given these divides - can any one Democrat build a coalition, bridging the distance between the party's two groups of voters? Kamala Harris, among others, is trying, criticizing Biden - and Warren, though not by name:

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS:

I'm gonna tell you that's why I'm not churning out plans like a factory because it is really important to me that any plan that I'm prepared to implement is actually doable

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, running as a Democrat for this campaign. Senator Sanders, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Good to be with you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's fascinating. In our poll, I think about your candidacy from 2015, and sort of your come from nowhere insurgent candidacy. And here you have -- you have changed the Democratic Party. More -- a majority of Democrats want big, substantive, transformational change. How frustrating is it to you that right now among those voters they're picking Elizabeth Warren right now and not you?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, that's in your poll --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, I understand that.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

-- there are three other polls that came out in the last week or two which had us in a strong second place. And let me tell you something, Chuck. Let me tell you why we are going to win the Democratic nomination and why we're going to beat Donald Trump. And that is that the working class of this country is sick and tired of working longer hours for lower wages. They're sick and tired of three people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of America. Sick and tired of 50% of American workers living paycheck to paycheck and being the only major country on Earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people. That is why we're going to win this election.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, as I was saying, I feel like message-wise you're winning the argument. Voter-wise, you still have a ways to go. You know, why you and not Elizabeth Warren? What would you say to those Democrats --

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well --

CHUCK TODD:

-- that want this transformational change? Because they look at the two of you and they say, yes, there is a few differences here and there, but they’re both advocating that big transformational change.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I, you know, Elizabeth is, is a good friend of mine, and all I can say is the following. What people understand is that for decades now there have been great speeches, great legislation, great plans about how to move the working class of this country forward. And yet in the last 30 years, unbelievably, the top 1% has seen a 21% increase -- a $21 trillion increase in their wealth, while the bottom half have fallen even further behind. In other words, what we need in this country is a mass movement of millions of people, which I am prepared to lead as president, to take on Wall Street, to take on the drug companies who are ripping us off every single day, to take on the insurance companies, to take on the fossil fuel industry, which is literally destroying this planet. What we need is a political revolution. And I think I am the only candidate who has been clear about that, who has the capability of doing that and defeating Donald Trump in the process.

CHUCK TODD:

You're getting a lot of advice these days from a lot of friends. The New York Times story earlier this week was filled with a lot of it. I want to show you an excerpt. "A deeper challenge. Confronting his aides and supporters after nearly four decades of running and winning iconoclastic campaigns on his own terms, he is deeply reluctant to change his approach." And you've had a lot of friendly, these are people very much supporters of you, who are saying, "It sounds too much like 2016. You have to rejigger things a little bit. Oh, be more personable." How are you accepting this advice?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, look, two things. People say, "Bernie, you know, you're repetitious. You are talking about the rich getting richer and 40 million people living in poverty. You are talking about so many old people who cannot afford their medicine and so forth. And so you know what, Chuck? Here's a promise I will make to you. When the poor get richer and the rich get poorer, when all of our people have healthcare as a right, when we are leading the world in the fight against climate change, you know what? I will change what I am saying. So it's not me that's being repetitious. It is what is going on as society continues to favor the people who have the wealth and the power, while all over this country people are working two or three jobs. And I understand that I keep hammering away at that issue, because I believe that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we don't need 45 million people struggling with student debt. Kids can't afford to go to college. Those are the issues I will continue to talk about and those are the issues we'll win on.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm very curious if you have, of what you make of what's happening in the House of Representatives on the Democratic side, because it does feel like -- it's sort of insider/outsider. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was a volunteer in your campaign, she was very upset with Nancy Pelosi. And she said, "When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm's distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood. But the persistent singling out, it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful, the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color." Is this part of this bigger disruption that you helped lead four years ago, where the party is just having growing pains? Or what do you make of this dispute?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, Chuck, this is what I think. I think it goes without saying that the future of our country and the future of the Democratic Party rests with young people. And I'm very proud, by the way, in virtually every poll that I have seen, we are winning people under 45 or 50 years of age and younger.

CHUCK TODD:

You do well with younger voters in our poll as well. Yeah.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Okay. And, you know, and what Alexandria and other young women and women of color are saying, we have got to reach out to young people. We have got to hear the pain of the working class of this country. And that is causing some political disruption within the leadership of the Democratic Party. And let me give you one example where I am very concerned. I have helped lead the effort to expand community health centers in this country. And right now there's legislation in the House, the Democratic House to cut, in real inflation accountable dollars, community health centers by 20%. Unacceptable. So I support, you know, Alexandria's, and the other women's, desire to bring more people, especially young people, working class people, into the Democratic Party. That is the future of the Democratic Party --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think the speaker --

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

-- and of this country.

CHUCK TODD:

--is being too tough on them?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

I think a little bit. I think you cannot ignore the young people of this country who are passionate about economic and racial and social and environmental justice. You've got to bring them in, not alienate them.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious, you're one of seven senators running. We've got this crisis at the border, unsustainable conditions, and now even Republicans are saying that they think these conditions need to change. What could you guys do right now in the Senate? What do you think you could do now in the Senate? I know you have plans to do something if you're elected president, but you guys, what do you plan on doing in the Senate in the next couple of weeks?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, the immediate crisis is that we cannot be separating children from their parents. You cannot be having unsanitary, disgraceful conditions in which women and children and people are living. This is the wealthiest country on Earth. We can make sure that if people travel 1,000 miles with their children, while they're awaiting the asylum proceedings they are treated with respect and dignity and as human beings.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there something more, though, that you could do? Band together almost as a presidential caucus and try to demand some of these changes? So -- I mean, it seems as if it's a lot of rhetoric but --

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Absolutely. And I --

CHUCK TODD:

-- what could you guys bring from the campaign trail?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, I think we can raise consciousness about this issue and understand that desperate people who are fleeing violence in Honduras and other countries with their little children, these are not criminals. These are desperate people who deserve to have an asylum process, and to be, if possible, not detained at all. Go with their relatives and their friends while they're awaiting the proceedings. But at the end of the day, Chuck, we have got to do what the American people want. And that is comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for 11 million undocumented. We need to provide immediate legal status for the 1.8 million people in the DACA program, and a humane border policy. That is really what we have to do as a nation.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Sanders, I'm going to leave it there for now, thanks for coming on and sharing your views, and stay safe on the trail.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Okay, thank you, take care.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you. Now, joining me from the other side of the aisle in the United States Senate, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He's chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Senator Johnson, welcome back to the show, sir.

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Good morning, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the vice president's visit with some Senate Republicans down to a couple of centers there. One of them, the pool reporter traveling with the vice president described a horrendous stench when they walked into the facility. The vice president himself said this was tough. We've heard a lot more Republicans acknowledge the conditions here in these facilities are just unsustainable. Okay, where do we go from here? Are you comfortable with this situation?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Oh, absolutely not, which is why I was supporting the emergency funding measure for months before Democrats finally decided to cooperate and grant the $4.6 billion, or vote for the $4.6 billion in funding. So that's just a first step. But Chuck, the problem is the uncontrolled, the overwhelming flow of people coming into this country illegally. In May alone, it was 4,600 people per day. It came down a little bit in June to about 3,500 people per day. But on average it's been over 2,800 people per day for this fiscal year. So again, let me put this in context. Since 2014, that was the humanitarian crisis here, when -- that President Obama called a humanitarian crisis, when 120,000 people came into this country illegally, either as an unaccompanied child but primarily as part of a family. Since 2014, the last five years, nine months, 1,086,000 people have come in as unaccompanied child or primarily as a family unit and have been apprehended. 1,086,000 people, about half of those who have come in in the last nine months alone. So it's overwhelming our system. And the goal of our policy should be to reduce that flow, turn it into a legal process. There's a number of things we can do. One of the things we have to do is we have to raise that initial bar in terms of claiming asylum, hopefully set up centers in Guatemala, in Central America, so people can claim refugee status. But this is completely out of control.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, Senator, there seems to be that enforcement -- there's an argument now that the extra enforcement measures, the get tough measures the president has tried is actually encouraging more migration. Let me read you a clip here from Ricardo Salinas.He writes this: "The people of Central America are left with a stark choice, endure growing instability, poverty, and intensifying violence as part of the failed drug war, or flee now before the border is closed completely. The rapidly rising numbers of families and unaccompanied minors who are willing to risk their lives to make the perilous journey north, even knowing that detention and separation await, speak of the increasing desperation." I mean, this seems to be -- we're talking about the border when the real core of the problem we're doing nothing about, if anything the president took money away from Central America.

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Well, first of all, Chuck, yeah, there is some short-term detention. But we are in full catch and release. I mean, people aren't being detained for much more than, at most, probably a couple weeks. So we are in full catch and release. There some a survey done by the Association of Research and Social Studies in Guatemala that said that a third of Guatemalans intended to migrate to the United States. That's almost six million people. A Gallup poll showed 158 million people worldwide, 42 million people in Central -- in Latin America, want to migrate to the United States. We can't take all-comers. We have to have a legal system, primarily designed toward working with our economy to get people in here to work so we can continue to grow our economy. This is completely out of control. So again, the goal of our policy should be to reduce the flow of people coming into this country illegally and turn that into legal flow.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that, but you don't believe coming up with some sort of better, a Marshall Plan for Central America, might actually be the best way to decrease the flow?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Well, that is a very long-term solution. You have our insatiable demand for drugs that has given rise to drug cartels, done great harm to the public institutions of Central America. There's no doubt about it, we bear responsibility. But that's not going to fix this problem in the here and now anytime soon. I certainly would want to see money flow to make sure that we can safely return people. I'm working with Democrat colleagues on a pilot program called Operation Safe Return where we can rapidly and more accurately determine those families that clearly don't have a valid asylum claim, and the majority of them don't have a valid asylum claim, and safely return them to Central America. That will require some U.S. funding as well. There are also humanitarian organizations that are willing to facilitate that. But we have to have that consequence. When Michael Chertoff, in 2005, faced a surge of Brazilians, he set up a process of expedited removal, reduced the flow by 90% in 60 days. That has to be our first step, is to reduce the flow, and then work long-term with Central America to improve the conditions down there.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to turn to a little bit of politics. There's a book out called American Carnage by Tim Alberta, and there's some interesting Paul Ryan quotes. Being a Wisconsin guy and a Paul Ryan guy, I'm curious of your reaction. Here's the excerpt. "For a long stretch of the 2016 campaign, Paul Ryan refused to accept Trump's takeover of the GOP. He traversed the stages of grief: denial, no way Trump can win; anger, 'I called him a racist;' bargaining, the RNC PowerPoint slides; and depression, 'This is fatal,' he told Reince Priebus, before finally coming to terms with it. This resistance was grounded in a basic belief that the Republican Party was still his party. Looking back, Ryan says, he should've known better." You know Wisconsin. You know Ryan. You know Trump. What do you make of this dispute? Is this personal? Is this a misread of where the party is? And where do you fit?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Well, I considered Paul Ryan a friend. I've got a good working relationship with the president. I've always abided by the Ronald Reagan 11th commandment. I think we do need to realize, as Republicans and conservatives, if we're going to defeat --

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump doesn't --

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

-- the growing socialism --

CHUCK TODD:

-- President Trump doesn't abide by that.

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

-- if we're going to defeat the growing socialism of the Democratic left, we need to hang together here. So I think we've accomplished a lot of good things in the last two years. We've stopped aiding the regulatory burden. We have a more competitive tax system that's produced more than 3% growth. Much, you know, ten times higher business investment. That's going to grow our economy in the future. So again, from my standpoint I'd like everybody to get along, because we need to preserve this country, this marvel of the American economy and model of freedom.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think President Trump's criticism of Speaker Ryan and his speakership is warranted?

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Well, again, I would prefer that we all understand that the opponent in this political struggle are Democrats and their growing socialism, and what they would turn America into. So we need to hang together. I prefer nobody criticized each other on our side.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican from Wisconsin. I'm going to leave it there. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views, much appreciated.

SENATOR RON JOHNSON:

Have a great day.

CHUCK TODD:

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

When we come back, those immigration raids starting today, and the debate over the crisis at the border. The panel is next. And later, the co-captain of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, Megan Rapinoe.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panelists here, former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida, former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, NBC News Chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson, and Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent of Politico magazine and author of the book I've already referenced once, American Carnage. Hurry up and buy it now. Tim, welcome and congratulations on the book.

TIM ALBERTA:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start, before we get to some of that intramural politics of the Republican Party, I want to start with the ICE raids that that happening today, Hallie. Here's what a couple of mayors have said. Even though the president said mayors are welcoming this, here's a couple of mayors who say, "Not so much."

(BEGIN TAPE)

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT:

With this fear mongering and making immigrants scapegoats and really disrupting families who are just here trying to live their life, that's not who we are or should be as Americans.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS:

There's anxiety that's being created not just in our immigrant community, but with anyone who has compassion and concern for human beings.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And of course, the president is sort of bragging about these raids.

HALLIE JACKSON:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Here's what he said about it.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

You know, if the word gets out, it gets out. It starts on Sunday and they're going to take people out and they're going to bring them back to their countries or they're going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison in the countries they came from. We're focused on criminals as much as we can before we do anything else.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

If you cared about this, why would you tell people?

HALLIE JACKSON:

Because the president likes talking about this. He knows it plays well with his base and he's got 2020 on his mind. Listen, cue the president's tweets to when he starts going after Democratic mayors for talking negatively about his ICE raids, but I can tell you there are people inside this administration who feel this has been grossly mis-messaged, that the president is way out over his skis on this, trying to rile up people who support him, and that's not backed up by what these ICE raids ultimately, when they happen, will turn out to be. And it's a concern, I think, for some people in the White House.

CHUCK TODD:

Tim, immigration in your book, I mean, it is probably the greatest sort of fissure point inside the Republican Party and why Trump is president.

TIM ALBERTA:

That's right. And Hallie and I have talked about this before, to use a basketball term, the president really sees immigration and illegal immigration as a high-percentage shot. It's a slam dunk for him with his base. The problem is that we know for a fact that there were a lot of suburban, traditional, upscale Republicans who voted for Trump in 2016, who voted for a Democrat in 2018. And a lot of them did view immigration as that fissure point that begins to sort of split the traditional Republican suburban, upscale, college-educated Republican from that more ex-urban, rural, working class, conservative Republican. And the president is playing with fire here because while he may rile up his folks, while he may mobilize that true believer base, he runs a real risk of alienating that broader coalition that he's going to need to win re-election.

CHUCK TODD:

Carlos, you represented part of a county that is part of that broader coalition the president needs. Cuban Americans, Venezuelan Americans, Colombian Americans that are in south Florida, at what point do they do not like this raid business?

CONGRESSMAN CARLOS CURBELO:

Yeah, there is a breaking point. And south Florida is different. A lot of the Hispanic vote there looks outside the United States to foreign policy and that kind of determines their votes. However, there is a sense of solidarity in the Hispanic community. And if you push too far on some of these enforcement policies, then you do start losing some of those other Hispanics who aren't directly impacted by them, but who certainly feel bad for those families, the individuals that are going to be hurt by this. And the sad part is this is not the solution. The solution to this is to reform our immigration laws, to fix the entire system. This is a political stunt, quite frankly, because if you wanted to conduct effective raids, why would you announce it? Everyone's hiding now.

HALLIE JACKSON:

It's also out of character for this president, who for every law enforcement action (UNINTEL) taken loves to talk about the element of surprise, right, and loves to talk about how, "Well, I'm not going to preview what we're going to do because then you'll know what's happening." And in this instance, he did the opposite.

CHUCK TODD:

But Claire, look, the immigration issue is probably one of the reasons you lost in Missouri, because of how he spoke to Missouri. But I want you to react to something here. The Heritage Foundation, Robin Simcox wrote the following: "So, the open borders enthusiasts need to rethink. "America is not a perfect nation, but it has done pretty well by its immigrants over the past couple of hundred years. Everyone is welcome provided you come here legally, work hard, and stick to the rules. It's not the pithiest yard sign; it is however a more sustainable ethos for our nation." How do Democrats walk that line?

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I think they've got to be respectful of the fact that most Americans, maybe not the far-left segment of the Democratic Party, but most Americans want there to be a process that's fair and legal. And they do not like the idea that people can come-- because if you open the borders, then anybody can come. And I think that what's interesting about this raid is they are supposedly going after criminals, in other words people who have committed felonies. There's plenty of people who have come here illegally that have committed felonies that they could be busy with. You never announce that ahead of time because if somebody's committed a felony, they know how to hide. So, the notion that he's trying to throw out this idea that they're going after criminals as he's announcing they're doing it just shows he's sending a secret message to his base that he thinks all of them are criminals, which is not what America thinks.

CHUCK TODD:

And Hallie, I think there's a competency question that I've got to add, because here we have an acting Homeland Security who used to be the Border Patrol commissioner. There's an acting Border Patrol commissioner who used to be the acting ICE director. The current acting ICE director, it's the second time he's been the acting ICE director. That's just DHS. I'm going to put up a scroll here of all the actings that we have here. It's going to take a while, so we can start talking while people see here. Labor, Defense-- I mean, these aren't small agencies either.

HALLIE JACKSON:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

This competency question?

HALLIE JACKSON:

The president doesn't mind it though, Chuck. I mean, he thinks, and based on my reporting the president truly believes that he has more flexibility when he has-- and he says publicly, too, he has more flexibility when he has all these acting positions in place. He has a new acting position obviously with the Labor Secretary who just stepped down, what, two days ago, but the bigger issue, and when I talk to folks in and around the White House, it's not necessarily Homeland Security, Chuck. It's not necessarily DHS. It's the Defense Department, who is still without a permanent Defense Secretary. That is a concern for the president's allies, for people who support him in and around Washington here.

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

And really thumbing the nose at the Constitution. These people are supposed to be confirmed that are leading these agencies. That's the way our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. I am so sick of some in your party, Carlos, waiving the Constitution when a Democrat's in office and then completely ignoring the Constitution when a Republican is in office.

TIM ALBERTA:

And it's important to remember that even when there was not this long list of actings, even in the earliest days of the administration, when they rolled out the so-called Muslim ban, there was no coordination between any of these departments. The White House com shop had not given talking points to anybody to even defend this when the president was over at the Pentagon signing the executive order. So, even when they were fully staffed with the A-team, this was still really messy. So, now, when you get down to the third string, it's going to be worse.

CHUCK TODD:

And remember, that A-team, not everybody thought that was an A-team then, in fairness. All right, Carlos, you want one more bite at that?

CONGRESSMAN CARLOS CURBELO:

Well, just briefly, the other side of what Tim said, because immigration is going to be a top issue in 2020, if the president can bait Democrats into saying that the status quo is acceptable, that we should have open borders, or that, like some are saying, that we should offer benefits and all sorts of public welfare benefits to those that are coming, that could cost Democrats as well. I think there's potential peril for them there as well.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. We'll pause it here. When we come back, we're all pretty excited about our next guest.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MEGAN RAPINOE:

We have pink hair and purple hair. We have tattoos, dreadlocks. We got white girls and black girls, and everything in between. Straight girls and gay girls, hey.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

The star of the championship U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, Megan Rapinoe, joins me next.

[BEGIN TAPE]

MEGAN RAPINOE:

This is my charge everyone: we have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We've got to listen more and talk less. We've got to know that this is everybody's responsibility.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. That was Megan Rapinoe, who right now is bigger than LeBron, bigger than Brady, bigger than just about anyone in the sports world and maybe beyond. Rapinoe, of course, is the co-captain and star of the U.S. Women's National Soccer team, which just won the World Cup, again. But she's about much more than soccer. Rapinoe has made news both for her fight for equal pay for women soccer players and for her refusal to celebrate her team's victory with President Trump at the White House. And we are very happy to have Megan Rapinoe join us this morning. Miss Rapinoe, welcome to Meet the Press.

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Thank you. Thank you for having me on.

CHUCK TODD:

So a long-time boxing reporter, who's now a baseball announcer, Charlie Steiner, said to me, he viewed you as a modern-day Ali, and here's what Sports Illustrated wrote. "There are elements of a modern-day Ali, Muhammad Ali, the late boxer, in Rapinoe's co-mingling of sports and social activism, to say nothing of her ability to turn the media's attention, even when negative in certain circles, to her advantage." What do you make of the Ali comparisons?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Oh. That's very flattering. I don't know if I'm -- if I'm Ali, but I'm happy to be the biggest ally I can to Ali.

CHUCK TODD:

What, what opportunity do you see here? I mean, do you see -- it's, like “Okay. We got the attention. I am going to make these points. I am going to make these -- I am going to do this activism?”

MEGAN RAPINOE:

I think the opportunity is in everyone's exhaustion of the fighting and the negative, and our team has managed to make people proud again, to capture people's interest, to make them want to do something. I think people are asking the question, "How can we rally around this team?" And in that really what the team stands for, whether it's equal pay or racial equality or LGBTQ rights. I think we've just managed to give people hope. And with that now we need to do the next step, which is to actually take the progress step.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go specifics with equal pay. I'm sort of surprised to hear that the corporate communities that support the U.S. Soccer Federation have been so slow to see this, have been so slow to fill the gap. I know Procter & Gamble came out today and they've given, I guess, an additional bonus to every member of the team.

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Uh-huh.

CHUCK TODD:

But I understand the way these deals are negotiated and some of this is the U.S. Soccer Federation, but are you disappointed in the way corporate America's handled this, your sponsors?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Yeah, I am. I think that we can do a lot more a lot more quickly. I think that it is a complicated issue and I think sometimes we get in the weeds about it, can't see the forest for the trees, when, you know, big sponsors can just write the check. These are some of the most powerful corporations, not just in sports but in the world and have so much weight that they can throw around. And I think that they just need to get comfortable throwing it around.

CHUCK TODD:

How much of this is you got to grow the game globally, by the way, because it does seem as if it's the westernized nations, who have supported women's sports first. And that has perhaps made folks in the corporate community think, "Oh, there's not enough people there to market to."

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Uh-huh. No, I think that the global aspect is huge, even just in the last three or four years to see the way that other federations have succeeded with their teams on the field. They've thrown money behind them and, shocker, those teams are doing better.

CHUCK TODD:

It's good that it was harder this time, right?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

I know, right? Exactly --

CHUCK TODD:

Right? It's good. You know, no offense to the other teams, but it was a little bit harder.

MEGAN RAPINOE:

I know --

CHUCK TODD:

And that's good for the game.

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Exactly. It's great for the game. And I think it allows us to put so much more pressure on FIFA as well, to mandate that these federations have the money to pay their programs and to mandate that FIFA, and to push them really, to do more.

CHUCK TODD:

You were talking about at the beginning that you see an opportunity here to preach a message of unity. I think the hardest conundrum that a lot of us are in, in American politics, whether it's those of us that care about these institutions in this town or otherwheres is that how do you preach unity and at the same time you don't want to be near President Trump. And I get that. How do you do both?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

I'm figuring that out by the day. I think you inspire people.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you tell a Trump supporter who loves watching you?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

I --

CHUCK TODD:

And is like, "I wish she'd go to the White House"?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Yeah, I think that I would, you know, try to share our message. Do you, you know, believe that all people are created equal? Do you believe that equal pay should be mandated? Do you believe that everyone should have healthcare? Do you believe that we should treat everyone with respect? I think those are the basics of what we're talking about. And I understand people feel upset or uncomfortable. There's I think some feelings of disrespect about the anthem protest or things that I've said in the past, but ultimately I think I am here open and honest. I've admitted mistakes. I will continue to do that. I will continue to be vulnerable and be honest and be open and want to have that conversation because I think Trump's message excludes people that look like me and that are me, of course, but it excludes a lot of people in his base as well. And I think that he's trying to divide so he can conquer, not unite so we can all conquer.

CHUCK TODD:

Anything he could do to change your mind about a visit to the White House?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

There's, like, 50 policy issues that we can probably reverse and get going. I mean, it would take a tremendous amount I think. I understand that progress is sometimes slow and I'll never close any door all the way. But I think it would take more than Trump is willing to do.

CHUCK TODD:

What are you going to do next? You want to keep playing? Are you going to get us one more World Cup? And would you at all entertainment professionalizing your social activism, perhaps running for office or something else?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

I do continue to keep playing. I'm not sure I'm qualified for office.

CHUCK TODD:

There's no qualifications for office these days --

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Yeah. Well, yeah, that's true. Up to 44 I guess there was. You know what? I'm going to fight for equal pay every day for myself, for my team, and for every single person out there, man, woman, immigrant, U.S. Citizen, person of color, whatever it may be. "Equal pay," as the great Serena Williams said, "Until I'm in my grave."

CHUCK TODD:

Tell me what -- you were -- were you about 11 or 12 when Brandi Chastain, you know, and there was that moment of, "Guess what? Girls can go crazy and celebrate too."

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you hope the 12-year-old girl, a bunch of them are in the audience today, thinks about 20 years from now in remembering you and what you gave to the sport?

MEGAN RAPINOE:

I hope the same thing I felt. I think in that moment it was just an incredible explosion of joy. It was so unbridled, so off the cuff. It was just everything that you want from sports. You want just those moments that are totally indescribable. I hope they feel inspired that they can do that, that they can take on more, that you're worth every penny and more, and that they have and with a smile doing it.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you have fun. You always have a smile on your face. That is --

MEGAN RAPINOE:

That is true.

CHUCK TODD:

It's been great meeting you. You have a lot of humility, I have to say that. Megan Rapinoe --

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Thank you --

CHUCK TODD:

Good luck to you.

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD:

We're rooting for you. Get us another World Cup too.

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Yeah, I'm going to get another one. I mean, five is better than four --

CHUCK TODD:

Always, always. That's right, there's five fingers.

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Exactly.

CHUCK TODD:

Exactly. All right. When we come back, as Robert Mueller gets ready to testify in 10 days, what do Americans think about impeachment now? That's next.

CHUCK TODD:

We are back. Data download time. Until billionaire Tom Steyer jumped into the 2020 Democratic race this week, none of the candidates have wanted to make impeaching President Trump the main focus of their campaign. And there may be a reason for that, based on our new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll. Our latest poll finds that just 21% of registered voters say there's enough evidence for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings now. That's actually a six point drop since last month when we polled all adults, by the way, not just registered voters. And it doesn't take much imagination to guess which voters are driving the pro-impeachment sentiment. Thirty-nine percent of Democrats say there is enough evidence to begin impeaching President Trump, though that's not a majority of Democrats, compared to 21% of Independents. Then of course Republicans want nothing to do with it, 85% say they want impeachment dropped all together. And like everything this year, this has to be looked through the lens of the 2020 presidential race, especially among those Democrats. That's where you see an increasingly predictable divide along the ideological spectrum. Only 37% of Joe Biden's supporters, who are more likely to consider themselves moderates, are interested in starting impeachment hearings now. Compare that with the more progressive candidates, Sanders, Warren, Harris. Support for impeachment among their voters is in the mid to upper-40s. Now of course where the candidates stand on Trump's impeachment won't matter if these candidates oust him from office at the ballot box. But politically speaking, impeachment is not likely to go away, at least as a wedge issue. Robert Mueller will testify about his Russia investigation before the end of the end of the month. And President Trump is likely to run against the idea of impeachment no matter what Speaker Nancy Pelosi decides to do about it in Congress. When we come back the Democratic divide. Small change versus big change, the pragmatists versus the purists, Pelosi v. AOC. Endgame is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with end game and a lot of intraparty politics and divides, it seems, this week. Let's start with Pelosi v. AOC. Maureen Dowd started this last week with her interview of Pelosi, and then just comes, brings the house down on AOC, Claire McCaskill. "In the age of Trump, there is no more stupid proposition than that Nancy Pelosi is the problem. If AOC and her Pygmalions and acolytes decide that burning down the house is more important than deposing Trump, they will be left with a racist, backward president, and the emotional satisfaction of their own purity."

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Yeah. I think the thing that really set me off this week was them going after Sharice Davids. This is the first Native American woman elected to Congress. She is the second openly lesbian member of Congress in history. She represents Kansas, from a district that has been held by the Republicans for cycle after cycle after cycle. She took out an incumbent Republican congressman. The notion that they're going after her and playing the race card, what are they thinking? I mean, what the hell are they thinking? This is a situation where I appreciate the passion and I appreciate the point of view and I appreciate the debate, but we have got to come together and stay fixed on the goal here, and remain pragmatic about how we win in 2020.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, you sound like Ron Johnson.

HALLIE JACKSON:

I was just going to say, yeah --

CHUCK TODD:

Ron Johnson said the same thing. He wouldn't take the bait there. Carlos Curbelo, is what I --

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Don't say I sound like Ron Johnson.

CHUCK TODD:

No, I know --

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Please don't say I sound like Ron Johnson.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, what's interesting here is this -- are you having Boehner flashbacks with the Mark Meadows and the Jim Jordans? Is that what we're seeing here? Although I feel like the Freedom Caucus had more followers than AOC does right now.

CARLOS CURBELO:

Well, for now, but Nancy Pelosi sees this coming. She saw John Boehner suffer. She saw Paul Ryan suffer with a difficult element in their caucus, and she is doing everything possible to prevent it. She knows that it's a threat to her majority-makers. She knows that it could make her caucus ungovernable. And that's not good for any leader, so that's why we see her coming out very aggressively, where Boehner and especially Ryan were more laidback about dealing with some of their more difficult members.

CHUCK TODD:

Tim, what advice do you think Ryan would be giving Pelosi right now? He seems to have a lot of opinions about --

TIM ALBERTA:

Retire.

CHUCK TODD:

-- how he faced --

TIM ALBERTA:

Retire.

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, he failed. He basically is admitting he failed.

TIM ALBERTA:

Yeah. The parallels are actually pretty uncanny between that Tea Party wave in '10 and this sort of progressive wave in '18, although it is worth noting --

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

It wasn't.

TIM ALBERTA:

-- to Carlos's point, the progressives weren't the majority makers in 2018 --

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

No.

TIM ALBERTA:

-- and furthermore, the Republican wave in 2010 was not just in Congress, it was in these state legislatures across the country that allowed them to consolidate power in the state houses and redraw these lines. And so that allowed a broader portion of the Republican base to move to the right in seeking elected office. AOC has to realize that if it weren't for these 40 Democrats picking up these suburban-held, traditionally Republican seats, that they don't have the majority right now. And that's obviously the message Pelosi has been trying to push, but she's going to have a hard time keeping the lid on this thing.

CHUCK TODD:

Hallie, this directly plays into what we're seeing in the presidential primary of Warren and Biden --

HALLIE JACKSON:

Yes. And I think you phrased it earlier, I think with Senator Sanders, it's the insider/outsider piece. You're seeing that writ large on the 2020 debate stage. You're seeing it here in the House of Representatives with this intraparty fighting. To your point, Senator, listen, you may and Republicans may not want to talk about the intraparty back and forth. Guess who does want to talk about it? Donald Trump. President Trump loves this. It plays directly into what he’s tweeting about this morning, the way that he sees Democratic Party weakness. Yes, your book, your excerpts got under his skin, I'm told. Based on my reporting, the president was tweeting about Kevin McCarthy, for example, and how much more he likes him. But the president will focus on this issue with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with Speaker Pelosi, because he thinks that it wins him points. And also, he hates this talk about Republicans not supporting him, about the Never Trump movement. He hated that so much. Now he has an opportunity to say, "Look, Democrats have their own problems too."

CHUCK TODD:

Well, Claire, check this out. The Democratic presidential primary is a tale of two primaries. Among moderates and conservatives, which make up 45% of the Democratic primary electorate, Joe Biden is up 20 points. Take a look here, Kamala Harris in second under the moderate/conservative category at 15. Nobody else, the other three in single digits. Now, among liberals, 53% of the party call themselves liberals, and look at this. It's Warren by double digits. Add up, yeah, Bernie Sanders, if you assume she eventually grabs more of the Sanders supporters or vice-versa. You can see where this is going. We're going to have a clash at some point here between the leading moderate and the leading liberal. What does this mean for the party?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Well, I think a lot of it is how they communicate with the members of the Democratic Party. You know, wide, sweeping structural change, how do you do that under our Constitution if you only have 49 votes in the Senate? How do you do that? You can't do that by executive order. So there is a disconnect between what is possible and what is pragmatic. And I think that whoever wins our nomination needs to stay focused on those voters that are going to decide this election. And they're not in the Bronx.

CHUCK TODD:

Is Elizabeth Warren starting to at least, do you think she has the ability to bridge this divide? Sanders it feels like has less of a chance.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I think --

CHUCK TODD:

Does Warren?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Well, I don't know. Warren keeps talking about this massive structural change, and I keep thinking, "How does she do this?" Right? And I think voters will eventually begin thinking about that. I do think that any of the top five have the ability to begin to focus more on some of those voters that make up almost half of the Democratic primary that are so into Joe Biden right now. Because they see him as steady as she goes, someone who will bring normalcy back to the Oval Office. And that's a really important thing he has going for him, right?

CARLOS CURBELO:

And somewhat counterintuitive, but in a way, Biden is the change candidate. The party that is challenging the incumbent president has to make a compelling case for change, and Joe Biden is probably the candidate on the left that is most different than Donald Trump. Joe Biden is vanilla, and vanilla would be a change to the presidency that we're --

CHUCK TODD:

That's an interesting point you make --

CARLOS CURBELO:

-- seeing today.

CHUCK TODD:

-- there's this argument that okay, he won with disruption, Democrats need to be more disruptive. But does the country --

CARLOS CURBELO:

That's not change.

CHUCK TODD:

Does the country, you know, is Warren seen as more disruption, in a weird way? Do you buy that?

HALLIE JACKSON:

Kind of. I mean, listen, I think that if Elizabeth Warren ends up being the Democratic Party nominee there is going to be some, frankly, celebrations, at least from what I'm told, inside the Trump campaign, who believe that she is somebody who they could beat easily in some of the places where they need to win. There is not that sense with Joe Biden, and that is evidenced by the president going after him so directly and so frequently. Now, there are others in this race who could end up being problematic for President Trump, like Senator Kamala Harris, who got a second look by this Trump campaign, and by people close to the president after the debates a couple of weeks ago. We'll see what happens with the next one.

CHUCK TODD:

Harris is the one candidate who's in third among liberals, third among, you know, is she the one that's got the porridge that everybody's comfortable with?

TIM ALBERTA:

We talk about coalitions in politics, right? And as you examine this Democratic field, you look through the polling, you talk to the campaigns and sort of study the strategies of their races, Harris would seem to be the one person, if she can put it together, if she can run a strategically coherent campaign, who could build that coalition, whereas you struggle to see it with some of the others.

CHUCK TODD:

Claire, Megan Rapinoe, what do you think?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I think she's fantastic. I was struck how humble she is --

CHUCK TODD:

So was I.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

And you know what's really refreshing? I mean, listen, Acosta, the last couple of weeks I've admitted on these cameras a number of times, I'd love to have that vote back. I regret that vote. It was a mistake --

CHUCK TODD:

And you can --

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

-- and I love it that she admits her mistakes, that she hasn't done it all right, that everything she said hasn't been perfect. But you get her heart. And her heart's in the right place. And she will do more to move the needle on equal pay than all of the Democratic women in Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

If Nike hasn't filled the gap by now, I don't know. They're not the Nike that I thought they were.

CARLOS CURBELO:

That was a wonderful interview. I enjoyed it. I think she should go to the White House. I think she should show the country that we can talk to each other, that we can meet, and that we can disagree. But refusing to talk to each other, refusing to meet, that's going to --

CHUCK TODD:

Guess what? We can always talk here. And we were happy to host her here, so there. That's all we have for today. Tim, again, congratulations on the book American Carnage. Go buy it. That's all we have for today. Thank you for watching. And remember, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.